How to In-Text Cite Movies in MLA Format

The Modern Language Association's "Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing" outlines a method for citing references when writing an academic paper. The MLA style uses in-text citations, in which the reference appears within the document itself rather than in a footnote or endnote. The reference directs the reader to more complete information in the works cited section of the paper. When citing a book or article, this reference consists of the author and date of the work. Citing a film is equally easy, but the procedure is slightly different.

Collect information on the film you're going to cite. You will need to know the title, director, studio and year of release. If you intend to refer to any of the film's perfomances, also note the names of the actors to whom you want to refer.

Insert a reference to the film into your work. Don't insert a parenthetical citation as you would for a book, but instead mention the work in the text itself as you discuss it.

Identify the "signal phrase" in your discussion of the film. Did you refer to the film title or director first? This will determine how you format your works cited entry.

Add a reference to the film to your works cited section. The format of this reference depends on how you referred to the film in your text. If you referred to it by the title, format it with the title first in italics, ending with a period. After the title, write "Dir." followed by the director's name and another period. If you intend to cite performances, write "Perf." and then list the names of the actors and separate them with a comma. End with a period. List the studio followed by a comma and the date of production and end with another period. List the format you used to view the work: Film, DVD, Video or another medium. If you referred to the film first by the director's name, switch the positions of the director and title. The director's name should appear last name first. For example, "Cameron, James, dir."

Things You'll Need

  • Writing materials
  • Film information